The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

October 21, 2011
California prisons issuing 26,000 layoff warning notices

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is issuing some 26,000 layoff warning notices to its employees over the next few days as it begins downsizing and shifting some of its work to local governments.

It's not clear how many employees are actually in danger of losing their jobs. Corrections is sending out more notices than the number of positions it expects it will cut, said Judy Gelein, deputy director of human resources for the CDCR.

The state has already started shifting its responsibility for some newly sentenced criminals to counties, creating a "timing issue," Gelein said, to quickly evaluate Corrections' personnel needs and make changes.

The department started mailing the notices today to staff with fewer than 10 years of service . CDCR can only process about 6,000 notices per day for mailing, so the bad news will continue going out into next week.

Usually the state issues three warning notices for every position it intends to cut. This time, however, the department cast the net even wider across a broad swath of job classifications. That will give it the flexibility it needs to observe its employees' contractual and civil service protections while officials fine tune downsizing plans.

State law and union contracts allow at least 120 days after the formal warning before employees can be laid off. Those in affected CDCR positions will have until Feb. 29, Gelein said.

Affected employees have essentially three choices: transfer, demote or face termination.

Some of the 26,000 getting notices -- about 7,000 non-custodial workers at overstaffed prisons -- will soon receive offers to move to understaffed facilities in exchange for a lump-sum transfer incentive payment, time off and layoff protections.

The department last week asked correctional officers at overstaffed prisons to consider transferring to understaffed facilities in Folsom, Susanville, Crescent City, Soledad and Vacaville. At last count, about 200 of them have volunteered to move in exchange for incentive pay, time off and job safeguards.

Corrections has just updated its website with the latest information on vacant positions in the system and job target for elimination. Click here to open the department's layoff webpage.

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at jortiz@sacbee.com.

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